NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) - Only 10 On Your Side is taking a closer look at the relationship between a plumber and a former city worker, entangled in a bribery scandal.
Andrew Zoby with A.T. Zoby Mechanicals, Inc. pleaded guilty last week to bribing two Norfolk city workers in exchange for preferential treatment. Zoby faces a maximum of 10 years in prison.
WAVY.com spoke exclusively with one of those workers before it was announced he is being charged with accepting Zoby's bribes.
Zoby will testify that he bribed retired Norfolk plumbing supervisor Michael Brown.
"I wasn't in charge, but anybody could call [Zoby] because he had the contract. Anybody could call him," Brown said last month.
During that interview, Zoby acted as though he did not even know who Zoby was.
"He was the... the contractor?" Brown said.
According to Zoby's statement of facts, Zoby left Brown envelopes of $100 bills at his office on Azalea Garden Road.
A former Zoby employee, who could see $100 dollar bills in the envelopes, would give Brown the envelopes between five and 10 times in the past four years.
"I didn't have to get a lawyer, but I figured it would be best to... it's always a good idea to get an attorney. I am not an attorney," Brown said last month.
Zoby will testify Brown would often call the office seeing if anything was left for him, and would go behind closed doors with Zoby at the office according to former employees.
Last week, Brown said all of the work Zoby did for him, he paid for.
"He put in a boiler and I paid for that," Brown said.
Zoby will testify that Brown did not pay for the boiler, and Brown had an outstanding bill of about $6,000.
In exchange for all this work and money, Zoby will testify Brown called him for service work with the city, and would give to or sell to Zoby new plumbing parts.
Brown himself has given conflicting statements about when he was called by investigators, and when he felt he needed a lawyer. He told the Virginian Pilot one thing, and WAVY.com another regarding being questioned by investigators and hiring a lawyer.
Brown explicitly said anyone in the city could call Zoby for plumbing jobs. The most puzzling piece of the case is why Zoby would risk his reputation to bribe workers he already had a contract with.
Zoby is scheduled to be sentenced July 10.
Under the plea agreement Zoby will assist government investigators at any trial, provide documents, and be available for any debriefings.
Another city employee is also expected to be charged with receiving a bribe, but as of this report has not yet been charged.
That employee, known as "Person B," received $17,000 of free plumbing work at his rental properties.
In the statement of facts, Zoby admitted he "asked the witness (a former Zoby employee) for blank invoices from the stack of sequential invoices on the witness' desk. When asked why Person B would give fictional work to... Zoby... the witness responded that Person B owned a number of rental properties... to which Zoby sent one of his employees to work. The bills were not paid."
Zoby would then be reimbursed for the work he never did with federal funds from the Norfolk housing program. Those payments were the used to basically reimburse Zoby for the bribes he paid to Person A and Person B.
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